Monday, 25 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers 31- Orange 3 - More Sedges

Sedges of Langcliffe Locks Millpond

There are two sedges flowering in the water of the Langcliffe Mill pond at the moment: Lesser Pond-sedge (which is very big)   and at the edge the Common Sedge - Carex nigra.

At least two more can be found near the outflow cascade: Spring sedge on the dry heavily grazed bank over the netting in the field, and Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca by the path (not grazed). 

1. Lesser Pond-sedge Carex acutiformis

The Lesser Pond-sedge covers a large area. It spreads by rhizomes. It is fascinating to see how the plants at the edge next to the open water are so much bigger than the ones further back.

It has big leaves, more than 1cm wide,  and the undersurface of the leaves is whiter than the upper surface. The base of the shoots at ground level have hints of red in them. They have fibrillae.
The female flowers have three stigmas.

Cares acutiformis - Lesser Pond-sedge The plants nearest open water are growing tallest. 24 May 2020

Fibrillae on the lower sheaths

Three stigmas per flower 

Carex acutiformis  Lesser Pond-sedge - at overflow with midges.

2. Common Sedge Carex nigra 

This has narrow leaves (c 3mm wide)  is here growing in small tufts in the water near the footpath in several different places. and each set of tufts look very different. It can also grow on wet moorland, a different habitat to this base rich pond.


Carex nigra usually has narrow (3mm) very upright leaves. The upper surface has more stomata than the lower surface and is usually slightly more glaucous than the lower surface.

3. Spring Sedge Carex caryophyllea 

Spring Sedge on heavily grazed grassland just over the fence. Perhaps the rain last week has enabled the drought hit plants to grow quicker than the sheep can eat them this week.

It came over a out a month ago:  on 17 April just half a mile further up the Ribble
It has a club shaped, chestnut coloured male head.

When they are young they look very similar to Pill Sedge - Carex-pilulifera -as found on the  roche moutonnees at Settle Golf Course on 25 April seen below: The Pill Sedge male head is narrower - I would like to go back and check  this.

4. Glaucous Sedge - Carex flacca

This is on the path next to the netting at the overflow. The female heads are on stalks so can dangle and look graceful. (Sometimes you have to bend the stalk). the under-surface of the blades are whiter than the upper surface.


You can tell I am having withdrawal symptoms form not teaching my sedges course at Malham Tarn Field Centre this June. .. 

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 30 - Orange 2 - Sedges

There are very few orange flowers.
Go on - tell me how many do you know?
There will be lots of flowers for our next colour yellow - but very few orange. We have used up the Orange Welsh Poppy at the beginning of May and "Fox and Cubs" are not out yet.


 We are going to divert into browns, and  orange pollen.
Today we have two sedges and a conifer:

There are plenty of sedges coming out now.

From distance sedges look a bit like grasses, but their flowers are very different.

Sedges have edges - they have triangular stems.
There are c 76 species of Carex (the Sedge Genus) in Britain. they belong to the Sedge family (which also includes Cotton-grasses) and there are over 100 species in the Sedge family in Britain.

In many sedges the top flower head has lots of tiny male flowers with anthers and pollen, and the lower flower heads have female flowers with either two or three stigmas that catch the pollen. It is really good to find them in May and early June because you can still see the stigmas.

 You can see one third of all the British Sedges within 8 miles of Settle (i.e. 25 out of c 76) - ( c.22 of them near Malham Tarn) and I have seen five species on my walks from Settle already: (but not shown them - I will do that tomorrow)

Spring Sedge -on the grassland over the river from Fairhursts
Pill Sedge on the golf course.
Lesser Pond Sedge (Carex acutiformis) - in the Mill Pond between the Locks and the Langcliffe Paper Mill,
Common Sedge (Carex nigra) - in the same pond
Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca) - the graceful one with a head in a stalk that can be made to droop -  on limestone grassland with  and eventual pendant lower head.

But today I will show the two new sedges I saw on Wed 20 May:

The two sedges are from my walk on 20 May south from Settle along the Ribble into the flood plain.  One is a plant of woodland streams .. and gardens one that is increasing in Britain. The second is one of Flood Meadows.
Both can be big plants and both have the undersirface of the blades glaucous.

2. Pendulous Sedge  Carex pendula

This is easy to recognise because it is BIG, and grows in tufts.  The leaves are over 1cm wide, often over 2cm. It is often planted in gardens and has a danger of taking over. Its seed can be used as food (says the internet)
The people at Holy Ascension, Settle Anglican Church spent a lot of energy weeding out huge tussocks of this plant at the back of the church in 2019

On Wed 20 May I found it in rocks beside a trunk at the side of the Ribble south of Settle. This is a natural habitat for it - though whether it had come from the wild is debatable


The second species is one that is much less common and does not grow at Malham Tarn, so I am pleased to find it near Settle.

3.  Carex acuta: Slender Tufted Sedge

Carex acuta: The top of the inner-face of the sheath is brown

This is a big sedge with rhizomes that can, given the space, fill big areas. It grows in patches rather than tufts, in spite of its English name. When not in flower it can be recognised because the  top of the inner-face of the sheath is a brown colour.

This is a lowland species that likes flood meadows and flatland next to streams and rivers,   There is lots of it in the Derwent Ings. Flood Meadows near York. (Before the last ice age the Ribble went past Hellifeidl and joined the Aire and continued to York.  The glacier not dumped huge drumlins and moraines at Hellifield so the valley got blocked and the Ribble turned south back to the west coast).

This area was once a glacial lake. This sedge would have grown in large swathes across the marshy land that existed here before the valley bottom was drained
 A little Carex acuta grows lower down the Long Preston Deeps SSSI towards Cow Bridge, in places that are usually too wet to walk to.. But the tiny patch that I discovered for myself last year is quite close to Settle so I can include it in my Lockdown walks. - It grows in an area that floods near the Ribble. (That's not very specific - a huge area gets flooded)

I found the tiny patch again.. Two small patches. One patch had been completely  grazed down by cattle and all flowers removed and the shoots reduced to 15cm stumps.  The drought that we have had this year meant that the surrounding ground has become dry and the sheep and cattle have been able to reach the patch of sedge and graze it. I hope we get some more rain to stop them eating any more of it

   The rain we had had two days before the 20th had made the soil damp - good for the sedge. Maybe that rain will allow the more palatable grass elsewhere to grow. Then the animals will not be tempted by the tall patch of vegetation, standing proud of the very much grazed Marsh Spikerush nearby and the extremely closely cropped ordinary grass elsewhere.  They had been selective in leaving the coarse Tufted Hair-grass and coarse Rushes.


1. Scots Pine - 

is profusely producing pollen this week.  Saturday's wind might have blown it all away. .
This tree is next to the Railway bridge across the road between Settle and Langcliffe. 
There is also a fine tree behind the stands of garden plants outside booths 

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle

Friday, 22 May 2020

Settle Wastewater Treatment Works

We have Special Services (in the CofE anyway) at Rogationtide to pray for  the crops, farms, animals, water etc. I had wanted to have a "Walk round Settle Event" to pay respect to the Organisations and Institutions and Processes  that are so vital for the Ecology of our community - and world.

There ARE places we could visit within a stone's throw of St Johns.

However the sewage works is a bit far out to walk.  So on 20 May I set off on a walk and took some scenic photos -

Not many Wastewater Treatment works can boast of a backdrop as beautiful as
Giggleswick Scar, Lords Wood, Penyghent, Settle Hills- Attermire,  and swinging through 180 degrees..  to Pendle Hill!
Pendle Hill in the background on the right

Attermire in the distance

Lord's Wood left and Pen y Ghent right

Settle Wildflowers- Day 29 - Red 5 - Scarlet

Scarlet Red at last!!

1. Bilberry: Vaccinium myrtillus

- On acid soil at the top of the Woodland Trust Reserve of  Cleatop.
How many people know the red globe flowers of bilberry? - which are just as beautiful as their navy blue fruit.

Plantlife made a survey of favorite plants in 2002 asking people to vote for a plant for their County. Leeds chose bilberry, and Plantlife asked me to send them a photograph. I went to Hunter Bark then, to photograph bilberry flowers

Billberry - 6 May  Cleatop -Woodland Trust Reserve 


I would like to walk to Hunter Bark to look for bilberry too.Hunter Bark is only half a mile beyond Cleatop as the crow flies.
 Hunter Bark is only 2 miles from Settle - It's just that there are so many places to visit within that two miles, that I never ever get that far.   I know there will be lots of flowers along Mitchell Lane on the way to Hunter Bark. 

2. Water Aven:  Geum rivale

So graceful

Often it is hard to tell if there is a tiny bit of hybrid Wood Aven in these. 

Water Avens often produce flowers and shoots like this that are "Sports"


3. Common Sorrel: Rumex acetosa

This is just starting to come into flower - It is common in traditional Dales Hay Meadows, but the animals will just have been removed form them, so the sorrel won't have had time to grow big enough to flower in them yet. This was growing on a precarious bank by the Ribble on Wed 20th, so out of reach of the sheep.


The Ribble near where the Common Sorrel was growing.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 28 - Red 4 - Pink and various

1.  French Crane's-bill - Geranium endressii 

This garden escape grows in one patch on the cobbles of the Ribble just south of Settle

2. These are Daisies - Common Daises - Bellis perennis - but the outside of the petals are red so why not include them here? They are fun!!
They were growing on the heavily grazed grass of the flat pasture above the Geraniums above


3. Clematis montana - growing round my neighbour's doorway.  
Clematis montana
This is a garden plant - not even an escape But it is so pretty I just had to include it.
Clematis montana

I had a great walk yesterday (20 May) setting off after 4.30pm from Booths, walking eventually 2 miles south of Booths along the river. I found two sedges ready for "orange flowers"in a few days time.  Then found a new lichen for my SD86 lichen survey. Xanthoria polycarpa  (It is tiny - The patch is 1/3 cm across)

But then I had to walk back and it was getting late.

So late that the grass flowers were opening, and the anthers hanging out

(I reckon they shed their pollen  when it is moister (i.e. evening) so that the pollen does not dry up so much. ) 

So  I took photos of Red Fescue. (This is a very common grass that is included in most fields and in our lawns. It has basal leaf blades as thin as needles

4. Red Fescue - Festuca rubra


Red Fescue  Festuca rubra

Does anyone know why it is called  rubra? People keep asking me that.

5.  Melica nutans (Nodding or Mountain Melick) 

- also growing at the junction between me and my neighbour, spread from a plant I once bought. It does grow wild - but only seven miles from Settle which is beyond my Lockdown range.   I need to look for Melica uniflora (Wood Melick) which did see in leaf earlier in the year and it should be flowering by now. This is similar but has a branched panical, rather than being a raceme.

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle